Many times people say, “If I had it to do over again I would have taken a more resolute stand. I could have done more to understand the solution. I should have been more aggressive and followed up on the decision.”
We are at that point in our budget process for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office.
We must make some very important decisions this budget cycle. I believe we have cut all the fat from our budget requests. As a matter of fact, I am a little apprehensive that we have not projected enough for some areas.
When someone wants me to make a judgment call I want to know something about that person, their capabilities, their background, their expertise and experience. I want to know if that person is straightforward and of good character.
In this case, the public needs to be able to believe what their sheriff is saying and that the budget requests are needed to keep the peace in our county. They need to know that the sheriff is standing tall and can be trusted. They need to know that he is committed and not just another two-bit political hack, trying to push a self-serving, personal agenda.
I may not be the most educated sheriff in Tennessee, but early on in my career I sought out law enforcement classes and began my college studies, earning a bachelor’s degree from UTC and later a master’s degree.
Then, as sheriff, I am still required to attend certain specialized classes.
I may not be the most experienced sheriff in Tennessee, but I have been working in law enforcement for over 38 years.
I, certainly, lay no claim to being the wisest sheriff, but I have listened to many wise men, and I am not too proud to seek their counsel, now. I say these things to help establish my credibility with those who do not know me, personally.
My senior staff, which took part in our budget preparations, has similar backgrounds in expertise, education and experience. When I say, along with my deputies, that we are in a particularly vulnerable place, as far as our public safety goes, I believe that people should take note.
I have mentioned in previous conversations about inner-city crime spilling over to our community. The drug dealers, parolees and others are already taking root here in the county. We see this in our arrests, traffic stops and other sources of intelligence gathering.
Now is the time to bear down on criminal activity, not next year or some uncertain date down through the years. We are doing the right thing, now, with the resources we have been given and our budget requests are to keep up with the 21st century growth.
Our leadership people at the Sheriff’s Office believe we can still get the job done, as long as we are funded properly. The Sheriff’s Office budget is a lot like the budget for the Department of Defense. When the president and Congress cut defense spending the armed services suffer. Our soldiers and sailors have been put in harm’s way, because they were ill-equipped to fight our wars. Past Congressional failure to properly fund defense has haunted our armed services people. This has caused enemies, at times, to look at the U.S. as a toothless tiger.
The fact is that, just because someone hasn’t broken into your home, or someone in your family hasn’t been assaulted or bullied by the bad guys, it doesn’t mean that the chances are any less it is going to happen.
I am charged with keeping the peace in Bradley County, and my deputies, also, have that responsibility. We can live up to that responsibility, if our citizens insist that law enforcement is one of our top priorities.
We all know that you get what you pay for!
We, certainly, are already doing what we can do with what we have in the way of personnel and monies. My experienced leaders and I have organized a special squad that is going after street level crime in a particular area where statistics show it is needed the most. You will be reading about this unit in the near future. Already, there is unsolicited feedback from grateful citizens in this area. People there are seeing a change in public safety that is positive. Some of these changes are very dramatic.
Our problem is that this is only one of the areas that needs such focused law enforcement services that regular patrol deputies cannot adequately provide. Our regular patrol deputies must work zones and answer almost 100,000 calls for service each year. That leaves little time for truly focused law enforcement efforts.
I believe that we can effectively fight crime if law enforcement is properly funded. As sheriff, I do not want one of our residents, in the not so distant future to say, “We would have, could have, should have prioritized our Sheriff’s Office budget.”
Yes, I am asking for the Sheriff’s Office to be given a new priority that it has never had up till now. A priority that Tennessee law says is to be given to law enforcement, along with the schools and the roads. There are some cold, hard facts staring us in the face concerning the spread of lawlessness. To ignore or downplay these foreboding signs is at best to be naïve and at worse to be downright careless.
Forgive me for the harshness of the tone of this conversation, but, again, years from now, when we look back on this era, I do not want to live in regret that “I should have rang the alarm much louder, that I could have done more to bring awareness, and that I would have, but ...”
I, certainly, do not want the daily headlines to lead off, as they do just southwest of us down the interstate, with another mugging, another home invasion, another armed robbery, another shooting, or more burglaries, etc. These things are happening in alarming numbers in Chattanooga. Bradley County is officially a part of the metro-Chattanooga area.
Call me an alarmist, call me dramatic, call me a law enforcement extremist if you will, but you can’t call me a fool. Talk to those who know and have made it their life’s work about law enforcement trends.
They will tell you that the “predictors” are here. We must act now to stem the coming tide.
I haven’t had the time to adequately research it, but a casual look says that Bradley County spends much less of its monies for budgets on law enforcement than other comparable metro-area counties do.
When Congress did not send the payroll and adequate supplies to George Washington at Valley Forge his men began to desert him. When this happened he respectfully asked them, “Is anyone listening, does anyone care?”
Well, I know the residents of Bradley County want the best possible law enforcement capabilities and services.
I am asking for your support, and as always thanks for reading these articles.